The Atlantic: How Women Are Harassed Out of Science.
Zero tolerance for such harassment.
The Atlantic: Success in High School Doesn’t Mean Good Grades in College.
“Instead, the pair thinks that if high schools want to prepare students for college, they should focus less on specific content and more on critical thinking and reasoning.” I agree. My experience in AP classes revealed a great variation in curriculum compared to what was expected on the test; I felt ill-prepared when facing those questions. But my experience was umpteen decades ago.
The selection of ‘advanced’ students was even more wobbly, in my view. Such programs tend to look for students whose performance is improving beyond baseline; this is an inaccurate metric in isolation. Using myself as an example: I wanted to attend AP English. But I was bored, having already read through the assigned reading materials, so my performance was declining out of lack of mental stimulation. I didn’t make it. So I took an elective in “Journalism” instead.
Ultimately, on my first day in college, I was asked to write a paper. I’d already skimmed the table of contents of the assigned “English textbook”, so I gave them everything the book covered, and much more. Within minutes of arriving at my very second class in “college English”, the instructor marched me down to the Department head and she waived all English requirements for my degree, clearing me for anything I wanted to take, including electives.
Here’s the question: Would the AP course have made me any better? I wonder.
High school is not college. And I don’t think there’s any way to approximate the experience in a high school setting. It’s more than just the classes and curricula. You are challenged in multifarious ways, this often being the first time a child is truly ‘on their own’, eliciting different responses in different kids. So yes, critical thinking and reasoning.
SciAm: Human Brain Mapped in Unprecedented Detail.
Chronicle of Higher Ed: What Classics Professors Can Teach the Rest of Us.
Yet little seems to rub off. Today’s writers seemed mired in descriptive trivia that the writers of classics simply didn’t need in order to paint a lively tableau. Perhaps it is my age - I don’t need to have my imagination prompted. I suspect today’s Disney-raised need textual cartoons to paint their cerebellums.
I would not change my era or childhood for *anything*.
Case in point: “Adrenalized coots”, “hotheaded moorhens”, “sly-bones heron”, “susurrant reeds”? Fellow writers, can you not see the thesaurus being hauled out for those? You can feel the streeeeeetch. Words over feelings, emotions. Words that break the song of location.
From my journal this weekend by the South Fork of the Rio:
There is a peace - a zen space - in watching the dance of sedge-flies in the morning, arcing and lilting over the water. A glancing touch on the surface, a sudden swirl ... swift death by trout. Chipmunks dart through the boulders and dead wood searching for forgotten morsels. Red-shafted flickers spark their crimson underwings seeking an easy insect breakfast buffet in the beetle-ridden deadwood. You can hear the river at work. Dull bass booms as the rocks shift. Curious, that flora and fauna manage to manifest such joy and happiness in the face of daily mortal danger, yet we humans seem to always be bored, testy and unsatisfied. An eddy in the river ... suds. Sticks to the rocks like plaque to teeth. Who would be so inconsiderate? Mother Nature has much to teach us, if we still have the capacity to listen. If we don’t murder her first.
I like those, but do not consider them finished thoughts; even that feels ‘not spare enough’.
Mashable: New ‘Hamilton’ cast members announced as Lin-Manuel Miranda departs.
Have faith, fans. The first casts are not always the best. Who remembers Michael Allinson and Margot Moser, the original My Fair Lady cast? Even Wikipedia is wrong - these two opened the Broadway show from ‘56 to ‘61, playing 2,717 times before Rex Harrison nabbed the spotlight in ‘62.
Wikipedia, more and more, seems to be edited by younger folks who’ve never cracked a book in their lives. Trolling the internet itself for answers to give quality reference content is like the ouroboros (snake devouring a snake).
The Atlantic: When Student Activists Refuse to Talk to Campus Newspapers.
“Student activists at Smith College told student journalists they would be barred from a black-solidarity rally unless they vowed to ‘participate and articulate their solidarity with black students and students of color.’” One wonders what happens to these kids when they hit the real world, and it sticks a big fat finger in their eye.
ANN: Fix for 3-billion-year-old genetic error could dramatically improve genetic sequencing.
“The new innovation engineered at UT Austin is an enzyme that performs reverse transcription but can also “proofread,” or check its work while copying genetic code. The enzyme allows, for the first time, for large amounts of RNA information to be copied with near perfect accuracy.” Exciting and mind-blowing. On the flip side, let’s hope it doesn’t make viruses more potent.
The Toast: Female Philosophers of the Early Modern Era.
“Here’s another list of seventeenth century philosophers: Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Mary Astell, Damaris Masham, Catherine Cockburn, Bathsua Makin. You can take a philosophy degree, including Early Modern philosophy, and not come across a single one of these women. ”
ANN: Codex Rossanensis, original Biblical manuscript, goes on display in Calabria.
Looks rather amazing.
Ancient Origins/Breaking News: Enormous Monument Over 2,000 Years Old Discovered in Petra.
Physics/Viewpoint: Black Holes Have Soft Quantum Hair.
Over my head, but I think I get it.
Guardian.UK: Memorising poetry is an art of the heart.
“There are some people I know who are just able to carry around absurd amounts of poetry in their heads.” I used to, when a kid in Princeton. It was a novelty in my social group. I have to have a certain amount of alcohol now to revive the neurons. I should make time to reestablish the pathways naturally; it’s something I’d like to add to my everyday conversation. On the endless life to-do list ...
Town Topics (Princeton, NJ): Jeff Lucker Looks Back on 47 Years Teaching History at PHS.
I survived Bulger and Roufberg. I never had Mr Lucker, but recall him fondly. You’d see him jogging through town at a certain time of day, you could set your watch by him. He reflects a kinder, gentler time in education. Part of that ‘culture of intelligence’ I love to talk about.
Createquity: The BFA’s Dance With Inequality.
“Has the arts degree become a luxury, or are artists from less advantaged backgrounds missing out on something?” There’s something I suppose only someone raised around the Ivy League could appreciate, affecting this. An arts degree is one of the few ‘socially approved’ degrees for rootless young children (mostly female) of affluence. As a result, there is often a bifurcation in arts programs - those who are ‘coasting’ until graduation, versus the working-class talents who are scraping to afford the education, milking the experience and contacts extensively in whatever free hours they have beyond the necessary work-study and other financial aid debt-slavery used to attend the best art schools. Sale ramen and bottled spaghetti sauce for four years, and worse ... to realize their dreams. To enter the workforce for a <20k paycheck, often. Yeah, realities. Meantime, the affluent coasters marry up to other bluebloods, nary a concern about debt. Or about art.
Two from Atlas Obscura.
ANN: Egyptologists differ on Tut tomb ‘hidden chambers’.
Apparently many of the ‘facts’ we’ve heard are still but theories, yet to be conclusively proven. Even the assumptions about Tut’s mask being repurposed was shut down. So this one is ‘back burner’ material until more experts weigh in.
ANN: Leonardo da Vinci’s DNA - Experts unite to shine modern light on a Renaissance genius.
The great never get to sleep in peace.
Western Digs: 900-Year-Old Village Recorded in Volcanic Badlands of New Mexico.
Another reason to oppose fracking/mineral leasing near Chaco!
Independent.UK: Ancient Egyptian statue of Sekhemka disappears into private collection.
Terrible shame. Look at the exquisite modelling of the features.
The Millions: Ward Farnsworth Doesn’t Mess Around - On ‘Classical English Metaphor’.
Oh yes. On my reading list!
Archaeology News Network: Influence of religion and predestination on evolution and science.
“The author notices that despite conclusions that evolution is not a linear process, biologists have never stopped seeing and contemplating ‘preadaptations’ and ‘regressive evolution’, when speculating on phenomena such as the lack of eyes in some exclusively cave-dwelling animals. Such choice of words can be easily traced back to assumptions of linearity and, therefore, predestination, common for various religions.” Western Civ permeates.
MeFi: The history of my stupidity would fill many volumes.
The thing is, not to avoid mistakes, but to make better mistakes. Iterate more efficiently.
Open Culture: Watch Animated Introductions to 25 Philosophers.
Even these short excerpts may be too much for some short-attention-span individuals. But worth the watching, for those who have never had any exposure to these ideas.
Vox: More American children and teens aren’t just obese. They’re morbidly obese.
Gack. Well, I’ve pointed to this book before - expensive, but very much worth the price: Schooled on Fat. You will be shocked, I think. I was. It has the honor of being the first book I’ve ever reviewed on Amazon.
New Scientist: Why so much science research is flawed – and what to do about it.
“Listening to When I’m Sixty-Four by The Beatles can make you younger. This miraculous effect, dubbed ‘chronological rejuvenation’, was revealed in the journal Psychological Science in 2011. It wasn’t a hoax, but you’d be right to be suspicious. The aim was to show how easy it is to generate statistical evidence for pretty much anything, simply by picking and choosing methods and data in ways that researchers do every day.” Why I try to ignore statistics; they’re like the internet itself. One can create a fantasy world to support just about any contention.